• Brexit / Novichok

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    13 July 2018


    There was a recent march against Brexit in Westminster and I know that some people attended from Devon. In the referendum I campaigned to Remain - almost exclusively on the basis that I was concerned about Brexit’s potential impact on the UK economy. That uncertainty and additional trading frictions have and will occur as a result of our leaving is beyond doubt – but longer term there will be opportunities that open up as a result – for example Michael Gove in the Commons this week made a Statement to the House about how we are going to be taking back control of our maritime waters to the great advantage of our home fishing industry – something that will be of particular advantage to many in the South West. Since the vote, my strongly held view is that we must now fulfil the outcome of the referendum and leave the EU – no if or buts and no second referendum. The shape of our departure is of course yet to be fully determined. At the time of writing the Cabinet is meeting at Chequers to talk through the options especially around our future customs arrangements. The key will be finding an approach that provides relatively frictionless trade between ourselves and the EU member states whilst seeing us free to negotiate trade agreements with countries outside of the EU. There is also the issue of ensuring that we win back control of intra-EU immigration – whilst (as we have already agreed with the EU protecting the rights of those EU nationals here currently and who make such a great contribution to our country not least in our NHS). I will be taking the customs legislation through parliament next week (Monday 16th July) – this will be an important outing in the chamber for me and I am very much looking forward to it.


    The dreadful news that there are now two further victims of the nerve agent Novichock in Salisbury should remind us all of the importance of taking the threat from Russia seriously. President Putin is not a leader who plays by normal rules. It appears that the latest victims may have picked up the syringe or similar applicatoar that was used to apply this deadly chemical to the door handle of Sergei Skripal – now thankfully out of hospital. The Russian media operation of course is once again in full swing blaming everything on someone else – even suggesting that our security services might be engaged in poisoning our own citizens as part of some plot. This is an age where for Russia so called ‘asymmetric warfare’ including cyber attacks, extortion, and misinformation campaigns are par for the course. Less noise than conventional military engagement of course but equally worrisome. We need to stand firm against this. So let’s hope that President Trump continues to fully support NATO and the UK. In a difficult and sometimes hostile world democratic, responsible and free societies need to stand together. Twitter @MelJStride and